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A new era begins for Environment Bay of Plenty

Tuesday 21 February 2006

A new era begins for Environment Bay of Plenty this week.

Long-standing chief executive Jeff Jones, who has led the regional council since it was formed 17 years ago, yesterday handed over the reins to his successor Bill Bayfield.

Councillors and staff, including Mr Jones, formally welcomed the new chief executive and his wife, Maggie, at a powhiri on Monday. Mr Bayfield’s former employer, Barry Carbon, chief executive of the Ministry for the Environment, also attended the ceremony.

Mr Bayfield was appointed to the job after an extensive New Zealand and Australia-wide search. He moves to the Bay of Plenty from Wellington, where he has managed the Ministry for the Environment’s Sustainable Industry and Climate Change Office for the past three years. He previously worked as director of resource management at Taranaki Regional Council.

Mr Bayfield, who is based in Environment Bay of Plenty’s main headquarters in Whakatane, says his new role is a return to “familiar challenges”. “It brings me back to my roots in local government,” he says, “and I’m really looking forward to that.” It is also a good fit in other ways. His career has involved stints in both coastal environmental management and emergency management. Both are vital issues for the Bay of Plenty.

Mr Bayfield says he has inherited a regional council that is essentially in very good shape. “I consider myself very lucky in that regard. I am not coming into an organisation with glaring inadequacies that need to be addressed quickly. Instead, I have been challenged by my councillors to take it to even greater heights.”

In 2002, changes to the Local Government Act gave regional councils the freedom to expand the scope of their activities. Because of this, Mr Bayfield says his initial task will be to help pick the course for Environment Bay of Plenty’s future.

“For that, I need to take time to find out what my councillors and my community want for the council.” New Zealanders now expect to be involved in major decisions that shape their communities. “So I will be listening very hard to what the community wants us to do,” he says.

Mr Jones was appointed as Environment Bay of Plenty’s first chief executive when the regional council was set up during the Local Government reforms of 1989. He is retiring after a long career, initially as an engineer for river and drainage schemes before moving into executive roles.

ENDS

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